Cannondale-Drapac lined up for Milan-Sanremo with a youthful and motivated squad. Five of the team’s eight riders were debutantes. Alberto Bettiol (23) had been tapped as the team’s leader.
In his first ‘Primavera’, Bettiol sprinted in for 37th place – part of a 50 rider group that hit the finish line three seconds behind an exhilarating three-up sprint won Sky’s Michal Kwiatowski following a tick above seven hours of racing.
“This a great race. I’m pretty happy for my result. It’s my first MSR. It’s a crazy race. You feel you’re good and then in awhile you can be not good anymore. It was like this for me until the Cipressa and then I felt the kilometers in my legs, and I start to be a little bit tired,” said Bettiol. “”I wanted to finish in the first position, in the first group, this Milan-Sanremo, to finish the job of my team that helped me for all of this 300 kilometers and also for [sport director] Fabrizio [Guidi] and all the staff that believes in me. In my mind, that was the goal. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do the best sprint in my life but I was in the front group.
“This is the THE italian race,” Bettiol added. “There is no stress in the first four or five hours. It’s the opposite of the Belgium races. Our mentality, the Italian mentality, is like this. No stress. Then in the final you go full gas more and more.
“This race suits me. For sure I’ll target his race in the next years. I’m lucky to still be young and to train for this better and better in the future.”
Will Clarke and Toms Skujins represented in the early escape. The 10-man move stayed away for 250 kilometers. Skjuins was last man standing, swept up on mid-way up the Cipressa.
“There were three of us that were on the lookout for the breaks,” explained Skujins. “It was me, Scully and Will Clarke. It was great that the two of were in the two-man group That meant the group was stronger. Will is just a beast of a rider.
“I wanted to take the bull by the horns as they say,” Skujins added. “I was happy we made it to Cipressa. I felt like maybe we could stay away over the top but leading into the bottom of Cipressa the gap came down really fast and there was no way we could survive for sure.
“The spectators were super cool. All along the road, all 300km, there were people lining the road almost every single metre. It was spectactular for sure.”